Graduate Theses & Dissertations

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Proximal Soil Nutrient Sensing in Croplands through Multispectral Imaging from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) for Precision Agriculture Applications
Currently, UAVs are deployed to measure crop health in a timely manner by mapping vegetation indices. A study using two different fields was conducted in order to search for a relationship that may exist between crop health and soil fertility. A UAV equipped with sensor technology was used for mapping of vegetation indices which were then statistically compared to soil nutrient data collected via soil sampling. Elevation data was also collected which was then statistically compared to soil nutrients as well as crop health. Results of this study were unfortunately impacted by variables outside of the researcher’s control. Moisture became the greatest limiting factor in 2016 followed by an excess of rain in 2017. Results did not show any promising correlations as moisture uncontrollably became the defining variable. Further research in a more controlled setting will need to be conducted in order to explore this potential relationship. Author Keywords: Agriculture, Multispectral Imagery, Precision Agriculture, Proximal Soil Sensing, Remote Sensing, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Interpretation of forest harvest recovery using field-based and spectral metrics in a Landsat time series in Northwestern Ontario
The forestry sector has a well-developed history of using remote sensing to identify structural characteristics of forests and to detect and attribute changes that occur in forested landscapes. Monitoring the recovery of disturbed forests is an important factor in long term forest management. However, forest that is recovered spectrally may not be recovered when considered in terms of a Free to Grow assessment. A Free to Grow assessment is used in Ontario to determine whether a disturbed site will likely achieve a desired future state, i.e., is recovered according to a forestry perspective. The objective of this research was to determine the relationship between a pixel-based Landsat Time Series of spectral recovery and the results of Free to Grow assessments. Spectral trajectories were generated from representative pixels within known harvested forest areas. Results indicate that while Free to Grow sites often achieve spectral recovery (>90%), many non-Free to Grow sites were classified as spectrally recovered, suggesting that improved methods of spectral recovery monitoring are needed. Author Keywords: forest recovery, Free to Grow, Landsat Time Series, LandTrendr, Pixel-based, spectral recovery
Population Dynamics of Eastern Coyotes in Southeastern Ontario
The ability of animal populations to compensate for harvest mortality provides the basis for sustainable harvesting. Coyote populations are resilient to exploitation, but the underlying mechanisms of compensation and how they inter-relate are not fully understood. Moreover, deficiencies in the quality and quantity of information about eastern coyotes preclude effective management. I combined field work, laboratory work, and genetic profiling to investigate the population dynamics of eastern coyotes in southeastern Ontario. Specifically, I conducted research on coyotes during 2010–2013 in Prince Edward County where coyote hunting and trapping seasons were open all year. First, I investigated their social status dynamics and space-use patterns. Transients exhibited extensive space-use relative to residents, potentially encountering vacant territories and/or breeding positions, and some transients became residents, potentially filling vacant territories and/or breeding positions. Accordingly, the study population demonstrated the potential to compensate for harvest mortality via source-sink dynamics and/or buffering reproductive capacity. Second, I investigated their survival and cause-specific mortality. Residents exhibited greater survival than transients, probably partly because of the benefits of holding a territory, and transients seemingly exhibited greater vulnerability to harvest than residents, probably partly because their movements exposed them to greater cumulative mortality risks over time. Accordingly, harvest mortality disproportionately impacted the non-reproductive segment of the study population and thus may have failed to substantially limit reproduction, and thus recruitment. Third, I investigated their reproduction and breeding histories. Females in the study population exhibited age-specific reproductive rates and litter sizes generally typical of those in exploited coyote populations. Accordingly, increased reproductive rates and increased litter sizes may have offset losses due to harvest mortality. There was at least some breeder turnover in the study population due to harvest mortality, but many breeders survived to reproduce for multiple years and those that died were quickly replaced. My findings have important management implications for eastern coyotes and contribute significantly to better understanding of their resilience to harvest. Indiscriminate killing of coyotes through liberal harvest is unlikely to be effective in reducing their abundance. Management strategies should consider non-lethal alternatives and/or targeted lethal control for dealing with problem coyotes. Author Keywords: Canis latrans var., eastern coyotes, population dynamics, Prince Edward County, southeastern Ontario
Influence of Nitrogen Deposition on Community Composition in Pinus banksiana Forests Across Northwestern Canada
Anthropogenic atmospheric emissions and subsequent deposition of nitrogen (N) can affect N-sensitive habitats and lead to shifts in plant species community composition. This study assessed the effects of N deposition on plant community composition for Jack pine forests across northwestern Canada and across a smaller subset of sites surrounding the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) using ‘gradient forest’ analysis. Predictor influence on community composition varied depending on the scale of the study and relatively distinct thresholds were identified for different plant groups. In the larger scale study, a total deposited nitrogen (TDN) threshold of 1.5 – 3 kg N ha-1yr-1 was well suited to protect predominantly lichen species, consistent with lichen-based critical loads from other studies. Across the smaller scale study, a TDN threshold of 5.6 kg N ha-1yr-1 was primarily associated with vascular species changepoints but did include some important N-indicator lichen and bryophyte species. Author Keywords: critical loads, gradientForest, Jack pine, Nitrogen deposition, species composition
Merit-Making and Monuments
Bagan, Myanmar’s capital during the country’s Classical period (c. 800-1400 CE), and its surrounding landscape was once home to at least four thousand monuments. These monuments were the result of the Buddhist pursuit of merit-making, the idea that individuals could increase their socio-spiritual status by performing pious acts for the Sangha (Buddhist Order). Amongst the most meritous act was the construction of a religious monument. Using the iconographic record and historical literature, alongside entanglement theory, this thesis explores how the movement of labour, capital, and resources for the construction of these monuments influenced the settlement patterns of Bagan’s broader cityscape. The findings suggest that these monuments bound settlements, their inhabitants, and the Crown, in a variety of enabling and constraining relationships. This thesis has created the foundations for understanding the settlements of Bagan and serves as a useful platform to perform comparative studies once archaeological data for settlement patterning becomes available. Author Keywords: Bagan, Entanglement, Religious Monuments Buddhism, Settlement Patterns, Southeast Asia
Reconnecting the Heart and Spirit
This research explores key themes emerging from the question of the meaning Anishinaabe individuals attach to utilizing traditional practices and ceremonies to address their own trauma. The contributors share their stories, which are deeply rooted in relationships. The methodology of this research is also rooted within an Indigenous paradigm; storytelling is a core feature of relationships and knowledge transmission through its ability to weave together and across generations. Indigenous cultures have had a long history of both verbal and visual storytelling, in the forms of pictographs and petroglyphs, wampum belts, bead and quill work, and so on. While stories are often entertaining, they are at their core, the most human of activities. Anishinaabe approaches to ceremony, spirit and the sacred are woven into the language, attitudes and practices that people still engage in, despite the depredations of colonization. The findings of this research explore how identity, found through love, caring, self-awareness, and the (re)claiming of wellness and wholeness, permeates the stories of healing and is rooted in ceremonies. This is relationship with self and self-in-relation to all things: niwiikaniginaa. Land-as-home, culture, family, and love ground people in their sense of self and wellness. Language and thought emerge from the land, the source of well-being or mino bimaadsiwin in the most profound ways. It is through home – land, family, culture, spiritual connection – that healing occurs in ways that cannot be found in clinical systems. Author Keywords: Colonization, First Nations, Healing, Identity, Storytelling, Trauma
Daphnia pulicaria responses to temperature and nutrients stress
Warming climates have had various consequences on terrestrial and aquatic food webs that are expected to persist. There is evidence suggesting that certain organisms are better equipped to handle changing climates compared to others. Therefore, the purpose of my thesis was to study the adaptability of Daphnia under temperature stress and nutrient limitation. First, to examine the effects of dietary phosphorus limitation and temperature on daphniid life-history and population growth, a series of experiments were conducted in the laboratory. In general, I found that Daphnia body growth rates and life-history traits to food carbon to phosphorus (C:P) ratios change with temperature. Next, I identified a protocol to limit the genomic DNA (gDNA) from ribonucleic acid (RNA) extractions. I found that using a modified phenol-chloroform extraction protocol was the most effective way to remove gDNA from extracted Daphnia RNA samples. Overall, results from this study show that temperature and food quality interactions are more complicated than previously thought. Furthermore, the RNA extraction protocol developed will be useful in future studies examining gene expression responses in Daphnia. Author Keywords: ecological stoichiometry, gene expression, life-history, nutrient limitation, RNA puritiy, temperature
Digital Elevation Models and Viewshed Analysis
This thesis approaches the issue of Viewshed Analysis and how it can impact the understanding of a medieval environment. Centered on the High Medieval period of Cilicia, in what is today Southwestern Turkey, the precision of Viewsheds in a complex terrain is evaluated, and the role of the fortifications in the environment is expanded upon. The maps that were generated for this thesis demonstrate that the use of free datasets must be done with caution, and that the use of more than one dataset is crucial in trying to create a clearer picture of the environment. The examination of four separate sets of fortifications within the region leads to new questions about the role of fortifications in the region, as well as a better understanding of what groups such as the Armenian Cilicians and the Knights Templar were doing in the High Medieval period. Finally, conclusions are made regarding the future impact of GIS based studies, and how they can help scholars understand Ancient and Medieval landscapes. Author Keywords: Armenian Cilicia, Fortifications, GIS, Viewshed
Assessing Measured and Perceived Risks to Drinking Water Sources
Microcontaminants originating from wastewater effluent and run-off from agricultural lands may be present in the sources of drinking water for rural and Indigenous communities in mixed-use watersheds. In this study, a convergent parallel mixed-methods design was applied to assess measured and perceived risks of contamination in the sources of drinking water for two communities; the Six Nations of the Grand River community in Ontario and the community of Soufriere in St. Lucia, West Indies. The overall goal of the project was to assess how measured and perceived risks of exposure to chemical and biological contaminants in drinking water sources could inform water management strategies for the communities. Quantitative data obtained from the analysis of water samples collected indicated that the highest levels and occurrence of fecal bacteria were found in the Soufriere watershed while the highest concentrations and occurrence of pesticides were found in the Grand River watershed. In the Grand River watershed, conventional treatment of water followed by activated carbon filtration and UV disinfection removed fecal bacteria and also removed many chemical microcontaminants with efficiencies as high as 98%. Data from both watersheds indicated that there was a strong positive correlation between the levels of caffeine and sucralose (i.e. indicators of wastewater contamination) in water samples and the levels of either Total Coliforms or fecal bacteria of human origin. Human health risk assessments of individual pesticides and pesticide mixtures performed by applying a hazard quotient (HQ) and hazard index (HI) model, respectively indicated that there were no apparent risks to human health from those microcontaminants. Qualitative data obtained from face-to-face interviews with water managers and health professionals working in the two communities, which were collected and analysed concurrently but independently, illustrated that there were cross-cultural similarities and differences in factors influencing the perceptions of risks associated with the sources of drinking water. These perceptions of risks were mainly influenced by factors such as heuristics or informal and informal reasoning, cognitive-affective factors, social-political institutions and cultural factors. These factors may have also influenced water managers and health professionals, as they often recommended more “soft” strategies for managing water resources in the communities. Key words: pesticides, fecal bacteria, microcontaminants, POCIS, measured risks, perceived risks, water management, First Nations, Grand River, Soufriere, St. Lucia Author Keywords: fecal bacteria, measured risks, microcontaminants, perceived risks, POCIS, water management
Temporal variation of dissolved organic matter and diffusive gradient in thin films-labile mercury in the Quesnel river, BC, and the Goose Creek tributary of Churchill river, MB
This study examined dissolved organic matter (DOM) and labile Mercury (from diffusive gradient in thin films (DGT)) in the Quesnel river, British and the Goose creek tributary of the Churchill river, Manitoba. DOM properties were measured with optical measurements of absorption coefficient (a254), spectral slopes (S275-295, SR) and fluorescence indices (HIX, BIX, FI). The DOC proxy measurements (a254) were almost 10 times higher at the Churchill site (Mean a254 116.77 cm-1) compared with the Quesnel river site (Mean a254 12.06 cm-1) during the study periods. While DGT labile Hg concentrations at the Quesnel site (2.17 to 98.97ppt) were almost 10 times more than the levels reported at the Churchill site (0.03 to 9.06 ppt). Fluorescence indices and the rise of labile Hg concentrations in spring indicated mostly terrestrial sources of DOM at both the sites. Spectral slopes and fluorescence indices substantiated that Churchill site had high molecular weight, complex and more humic DOM compared with Quesnel. DOM at both the sites was prone to temporal variation and affected by environmental conditions. Correlation between DGT labile-Hg and DOM parameters suggested that DGT collected Hg-organic complexes along with inorganic labile-Hg complexes. Author Keywords: Churchill, Diffusive gradient in thin films, Dissolved organic matter, Labile Hg, Mercury, Quesnel
Solving Differential and Integro-Differential Boundary Value Problems using a Numerical Sinc-Collocation Method Based on Derivative Interpolation
In this thesis, a new sinc-collocation method based upon derivative interpolation is developed for solving linear and nonlinear boundary value problems involving differential as well as integro-differential equations. The sinc-collocation method is chosen for its ease of implementation, exponential convergence of error, and ability to handle to singularities in the BVP. We present a unique method of treating boundary conditions and introduce the concept of the stretch factor into the conformal mappings of domains. The result is a method that achieves great accuracy while reducing computational cost. In most cases, the results from the method greatly exceed the published results of comparable methods in both accuracy and efficiency. The method is tested on the Blasius problem, the Lane-Emden problem and generalised to cover Fredholm-Volterra integro-differential problems. The results show that the sinc-collocation method with derivative interpolation is a viable and preferable method for solving nonlinear BVPs. Author Keywords: Blasius, Boundary Value Problem, Exponential convergence, Integro-differential, Nonlinear, Sinc
Icelandic Dust Entrainment, Emission & Deposition
Extremely active dust sources within selected areas of Iceland that are comprised of particles supplied from both glacio-fluvial outwash systems and volcanic eruptions (Bullard et al., 2016; Gassó et al., 2018). The supply of sediments, sparsity of vegetation, high frequency of surface winds, and lack of adequate gravel pavement to reduce sand drifting are believed to influence the duration, frequency, and magnitude of these dust events in Iceland. Apart from recent collaborative efforts to measure and model dust entrainment, emission and deposition (Prospero et al., 2012; Zwaaftink et al., 2017), several underlying physical mechanisms that are unique to cold, humid climates and the geology of Iceland are not well understood. This study specifically aims to assess and understand the physics of Icelandic dust entrainment and deposition with an emphasis on the influence of climate and the physical characteristics of the particles. A series of laboratory experiments of different configurations were carried out on several sediments collected from some of the most emissive sources in Iceland in order to understand these dust processes. The results from this study show that the increasing particle sphericity is associated with progressively smaller particle size; and an abundance of amorphous glass increases the surface area and roughness of the particles, which contributes to high porosity that alters the particle skeletal density. The particle features and climate are interlinked with the entrainment and deposition rates. For instance, coarse sediments emit higher PM concentrations than sediments containing more clay. The strong wind shear at the bed surface acts to disperse many of the tiny particle aggregates and coated liquid droplets contained within a splash structure created by the impact of a single water droplet. The deposition of suspended dust particulates is dependent on the particle characteristics and relative humidity. The retreat of glaciers and ice-cap masses in Iceland are expected to expose new dust particulate sources as the global mean temperature continues to rise (Cannone et al., 2008; Radic and Hock, 2011). Therefore, the influence of the particle characteristics and climate on the dust entrainment, emission and de- position must be accounted for in the parameterization of dust dispersion models related to suspended volcaniclastic particles. Author Keywords: High latitude cold climate environments, Icelandic dust particle characteristics, Laser Doppler anemometer, Rain droplet impact, Settling velocity, Wind tunnel

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